2016 and Some Needed Presepective

You know, there’s an obvious way I could do this. I could easily focus on the ugliest Presidential campaign since 1800 and everything that has gone along with it; the videos we were seeing of young African-American men dying at the hands of police, the protests and riots in some cities that followed; the destructive war in Syria; growing tensions with Russia; and of course the death of so many iconic entertainers.

But I’m not.

When I look back on 2016, I’m going to remember:

  • The continued dominance of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, and watching the emergence of Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky during the Olmpics in Rio
  • The EXPLOSION of all things “Hamilton: The Musical” and their sweep at the Tony Awards
  • Leonardo Di Caprio winning his first Academy Award for Best Actor
  • “Luke Cage” and season 2 of “Daredevil” on Netflix
  • Negan’s bat (although I guess that’s not a positive thing)
  • Disney’s release two GREAT animated features with “Zootopia” and “Moana”
  • New music from a few of my favorite artists–Chely Wright, Karmin, and A Tribe Called Quest

And then there are the things that happened in the lives of my friends and family:

  • Four different friends were married, and at least two others got engaged
  • Shiloh got engaged and also qualified for the Boston Marathon, Libby finished her first half marathon, and Kelsey finished her first Spartan Race
  • Five couples brought new babies in to the world
  • My friends Jill & Burt spent the year in Germany with their four children, and their youngest daughter Maggie started learning German, and taught herself how to ride a bike, how to do a cartwheel and a one-handed cartwheel, and a few yoga poses
  • Mary won a trip to Hawaii
  • My brother won tickets to the MLB Home Run Derby
  • Mark, my buddy from ASU, celebrated (as he put it) his three-year “Cancerversary” meaning he’s officially cancer free
  • My mom finished up her chemotherapy treatments
  • Sarah’s son started reading
  • Amanda spent a week at a beach house in Oceanside with her husband, their three sons, and their dog
  • There were COUNTLESS trips to Disneyland, new jobs, and new cars
  • Mike, an assistant brewer at Mike Hess Brewing, celebrated a well-earned Gold Medal win at the World Beer Cup for their Claritas Kölsch

As for me, well:

  • I’ve lost track of just how many trips up to Disneyland I made in 2016, but on April 12 I went with my friend Jodie to celebrate our birthdays (she’s the 13th, I’m the 14th) . It was a great day, and we capped it off with dinner at the Carnation Cafe on Main Street where we each received a free cupcake, had a view of the “Paint the Night” parade, and we were able to hop on to Main Street to watch the fireworks
  • I was finally able to see Disney’s “The Lion King” musical on stage, and it was amazing
  • The San Diego Zoo celebrated their 100th anniversary, and I got a free cupcake out of it
  • Was able to go to Roundtable Pizza with my buddy Mark when he was in town for ComicCon
  • My oldest friend’s oldest daughter got her driver’s license and applied to ASU (and made me feel REALLY old in the process)
  • I’ve read just about 3 books each month (not all of them very good, though)
  • I listened to A LOT of great music from Prince, David Bowie, A Tribe Called Quest, George Michael, and the Eagles
  • And I was able to spend a whole lot of a time with a whole lot of people I care a whole lot about.

So yeah, 2016 has been rough. Speaking as someone who has battled depression for most of his life, we cannot let the dark and negative things in the world overpower us. There’s been way too much death and negativity over the past year, but we cannot forget about the things that made us happy, that made us smile. Think about the movies you watched, how that In-N-Out or the first strawberries of the season tasted, the sound of your child laughing in the next room. Shoot, go outside, put your phone away, appreciate the world around you, and remember what Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for the Schuyler sisters in “Hamilton”: “Look around, look around/At how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

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If Prince Fielder Retires, This is What I’ll Remember Most

Reading reports that Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder may have to retire after having a second surgery on his neck. This kind of bums be out because I loved watching the guy hit, and I never enjoy seeing a ballplayer’s career ended for medical reasons. I will, however, forever have etched in my mind a play from Game 2 of the 2012 World Series where Prince tried to score, but was thrown out at home after a great throw from Gregor 535c2fc1-bccb-4a20-b721-850c04bea57a_500Blanco, even better relay from Marco Scutaro, and a perfect tag on Prince’s fanny from Buster Posey. Oh, and I’ll also never forget that Barry Zito knocked in more RBI in two plate appearances (1 RBI) in that Series than Prince did in 15 (0 RBI). But now I’m just being a big ol’ jerk.

No matter what, I hope you get healthy, Prince–although it is pretty cool that you and your dad both have 319 career homers.


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Don’t Be This Guy at Disneyland

I recently came across a video touting “5 Disneyland Hacks” that you may not have known about. Now, being a Disneyland Annual Pass Holder myself, I was curious–I’m always interested in learning something new about Disneyland, and different people have different tricks/advice. Frankly the first and last “hacks” in the video should be avoided at all costs, and the third tip isn’t bad, just not really necessary when it comes to saving money at the parks. As much as I don’t want to give that video any more views, give it a look-see (it’s only 5 1/2 minutes of your life), and then take a look at my counter-points below.


  1. DO NOT park in a random residential neighborhood. I don’t know about your street, but parking is pretty limited on my block. If people parked their car in front of my house for 12+ hours every day, I’d be mad. Steam bursting from my ears & fire streaming out of my nostrils mad. Unless you know someone who lives close to Disneyland and that person invites you to park at their house, don’t park in the residential neighborhoods. I know that paying $18/day to park at Disneyland isn’t fun, but carpool and split the cost of parking and gas. Also, if you’re not staying at a hotel, don’t park in a neighborhood and then take a shuttle from a nearby hotel to the park. If you’re not willing to walk 10 minutes to get to Disneyland, maybe Disneyland isn’t the place for you.
  2. The advice to check wait times and get FastPasses is solid. Definitely download the Disneyland app (it’s free)–it lists wait times, FastPass return times, along with locations for every restaurant, restroom, gift shop, character appearance, ATM, and all of that good stuff. The menus for all of the restaurants are also on the app, so that’s a plus if you can’t decide what to eat. One tip on the FastPasses: each FP will tell you when you can get another pass for another attraction, so pay attention to that time at the bottom of the FastPass.
  3. Of course water can get expensive, but here’s the thing: you can bring bottles in. Stop by a store, buy a bottle of water for 1/3 of the price that you’d pay in Disneyland, and just use the water fountains around the park to fill it. I usually bring a 32oz CamelBak bottle with me when I go–it’s a heckuva lot easier to carry than those cups you get in the restaurants. Bonus: you won’t have to toss is when you want to go on Big Thunder or the Matterhorn. There’s also a water fountain in Tomorrowland that is designed to make it easier to fill bottles, so fill up when you’re over in that part of the park.
  4. If you want to watch fireworks from anywhere near the castle, you have to camp out in that spot for a while before the fireworks start. Personally, I’m not crazy about sitting on that concrete for an hour or more before the fireworks start just to be one of the first guests to get on one of the Fantasyland attractions after the fireworks.
  5. I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT badger people eating at the Blue Bayou when your boat leaves the Pirates of the Caribbean dock. A) you’ll annoy every last speck of Pixie Dust out of your boatmates, B) you’ll annoy every last speck of Pixie Dust out of anyone at the Blue Bayou who might actually hear you, C) if someone does decide to toss you a roll, it won’t be Peyton Manning, so the chances of it reaching your boat is slim, D) if it does reach your boat, you’re not Jerry Rice, and you’ll probably not catch it, E) a Cast Member will have to go out of their way to clean up a soggy, water-logged roll from the bottom of the attraction, and that’s just gross. The “tip” to park in a residential neighborhood annoyed me (and I live in San Diego), but this one absolutely enraged me. I’ve been on that attraction recently with a woman who was shouting to the guests at the Blue Bayou, and I wanted to toss her overboard before we even reached the old man in the rocking chair.

That’s just my 2 cents on this. There are definitely ways to save money, cut down on the amount of time you spend waiting in line, or to just enhance the time you spend in the parks–you just weren’t going to get those tips from that video. And remember, leave your Selfie Stick at home.

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More Athletes Should Take a Cue from Andrew McCutchen and Miguel Cabrera

As a kid, whenever I went to a San Diego Padres game, I’d usually bring a stack of baseball cards in the hopes that I’d be able to get an autograph before a game. The very first game my dad took me to, Steve Garvey was signing autographs outside of Jack Murphy Stadium, and 8-year old me was too shy to ask for one. Over the years, I collected autographs from guys like Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (he yelled at me, but that’s another story for another time), Giants fan favorite Brett Butler, Andres Galarraga, an Expos pitcher named Brian Barnes, and a handful of others. Back in 2012, I was at a Giants/Padres game with my buddy, and Giants pitcher Brad Penny tossed a ball in my general direction during batting practice, and 36-year old me was thrilled (Brad Penny’s aim tossing a ball in to the stand was about as good as his accuracy throwing the 60 feet, 6 inches from the mound to Buster Posey behind the plate, and the ball sailed about 6 feet to my left. Still, HE THREW A BALL TO ME!).

Long story short: I’m a baseball nerd, I still like to collect the occasional piece of baseball memorabilia, and I LOVE the brief interactions with players I have before, and even during, games (even when they strike fear in me). That being said, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers have taken things to a whole new level I never would have dreamed of, and they know how to turn kids in to fans like no one I’ve seen in a very long time.

Back in 1985, Padres pitcher Ed Wojna gave me a chocolate chip cookie at a Junior Padres Caravan stop at a local mall. Few people know who Ed Wojna is and that he was a Major League pitcher. 30 years later, I still remember him, and a promise you that the kids in those videos will never forget Cutch or Miggy.

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A Look Back at Pat Murphy’s Time in Tempe

Last week, the San Diego Padres hired former Arizona State baseball head coach Pat Murphy to be in the interim manager in San Diego. A few friends mentioned that I had a reason to follow the Padres now, and a few others asked what I thought of him. My response was always that I felt he better suited to manage in the minor leagues or at the college level. And I was less than thrilled with the way he and ASU parted ways. Let’s just say the phrase “Lack of Institutional Control,” along with “vacated wins” and “post-season ban” kind of rubs me the wrong way, especially when talking about Arizona State athletics. (Read more here: ARIZONA STATE VIOLATIONS OUTLINED AND REACTION.)

I do give Murphy credit on a couple of fronts, though: 1) after Pat Tillman’s death, he was one of the first to coaches at ASU embrace all things PT42 (current head football coach Todd Graham has taken it to an even higher level), and he wore number 42 after it wasi retired across the board by ASU athletics; 2) he developed some great hitters while in Tempe, and I can’t remember a time when there were more Sun Devils playing MLB than there are right now (13? currently on major league rosters; well over 100 players he coached at ASU were drafted).

Pat Murphy’s Arizona State baseball teams won. They won a lot, and they scored runs. A lot. From 1995 to 2004, the Devils set an NCAA for scoring at least 1 run in 506 consecutive games. From 1995 to 2009, ASU’s record was 629-284-1, that includes Pac-10 Championships in 2000, 2008, and 2009, appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 1997-’98, 2000-’06, 2008, and 2009. Murphy led the Devils to the College World Series in Omaha in 1998, 2005, and 2009. (In 2007, the Sun Devils Conference Championship, and appearances in the Tournament and CWS were vacated due to NCAA rules violations.) The 1998 team made it to the Championship Game, but lost by a touchdown to Southern California, 21-14 (seriously, that was the final score–I can still see myself pacing around my apartment in Mesa while I watched).

The picture below was taken during the 2005 College World Series after Jeff Larish hit 3 home runs in a game against Nebraska (the old guy on his knees on the right his Murphy). There’s no doubt that he’s passionate about baseball, loves his players, and wants to win. I hope Murphy does well in his stint with the Padres, but I still say he’s best suited to manage at the minor league level–the guy knows how to develop hitters.11230928_997789973587890_3150040719237419040_n

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America On Parade: Disneyland’s Tribute to America’s Bicentennial

Over the past few years, I’ve been going through my Mom’s piles of pictures and photo albums, looking for pictures that I’d be able to scan in. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that we can blame “Throwback Thursday” on instagram, twitter, and facebook for my desire to have digital copies of pictures from the ’70s and ’80s (I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get my first digital camera until 2003).

Among the plethora of pictures of my older brother, and the handful of pictures of me, are a few from trips to Disneyland. The ones that caught my eye most was a group of pictures from February 1977 and Disneyland’s parade “America on Parade.” According to yesterland.com, the parade celebrating the nation’s Bicentennial was “a spectacular tribute to America’s history, people, and traditions. With 50 parade units, 150 character performers, and lasting over a half hour, America on Parade is a grand experience.” The website DisneyAvenue.com has more about the parade in a post titled “A Tribute to Walt Disney’s America On Parade.”

The quality of the pictures isn’t all the great, but not too bad considering they’re 40-years old. For higher quality shots, be sure to check out Yesterland’s page.

Meet my Grandmother (who will be 93 this August), my brother (4 at the time), my Great-Aunt Rita (my grandfather’s sister), and my father holding a one-year old me.


This shows the original Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Fantasyland. In 1983, “New” Fantasyland was opened after a massive refurbishment.

Dumbo & old Fantasyland

Over in Frontierland, the “Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland” attraction feature a train ride through the old west, similar to “The Jungle Cruise” in Adventureland. This was eventually removed for my favorite ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Rainbow Ridge

The Submarine Voyage. Opened in 1959 and was around until 1998, and was closed until it reopened as the “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage” in 2007.


There aren’t too many Disney characters in the pictures, and the ones that are in there are waving American flags. It’s kinda weird. The non-Disney characters–the ones celebrating United States history–are a bit on the creepy side, if you ask me.

The Tobacco Shop was still there in 1976. It’s now the 20th Century Music Company. Also, notice that the Main Street Cinema is showing “The Rounders”–a Charlie Chapman film from 1914, about two drunks: one who beats his wife, and the other who is beaten by his. Not the classic Mickey shorts that we’re used to now, huh?

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My Other (IBWAA) Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Yesterday, the Baseball Writers Association of America elected four former players into the Hall of Fame. This summer, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio will give speeches in front of a mass of humanity in Cooperstown, NY, and frankly, they earned this honor. In my last post, My 2015 Hall of Fame Vote Might Disappoint You, I wrote that if I had were a member of the BBWAA, Johnson, Martinez, and Biggio would have gotten my vote. Sorry, Smoltzie, those darn writers only allow their members to vote for 10 guys, and you didn’t make my cut this year (not that it mattered, you got in any way. High five for you).

Now, back in July of 2009, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America was founded, not as competition to the BBWAA, but to compliment them. I think we can all agree that the print media is a dying breed, and the IBWAA offers a digital alternative. Just like the BBWAA, the IBWAA honors players with the same awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie, & Manager of the Year for each league). Starting in 2010, the group started holding elections for the IBWAA Hall of Fame, electing Bert Blyleven (who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 2011). In 2011, the IBWAA elected Roberto Alomar, Mike Piazza in 2013, and in 2014, elected Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Craig Biggio. Let it be said that the two organizations are two separate entities, although members of the BBWAA are more than welcome to join the IBWAA, if they so choose.

Luckily this past summer, I joined the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, and let me tell you, I gave plenty of thought when it came time to vote for the season awards and the Hall of Fame. Because the two groups have elected different players at times (ex: Mike Piazza has not been immortalized in Cooperstown yet, and Craig Biggio was elected to the IBWAA HOF a year before the BBWAA elected him), I had a different ballot to choose from. The IBWAA also allows members to vote for 15 retired players, where the BBWAA only allows 10.

Since I’ve shared by pretend-Hall of Fame ballot for the past 3 years, I thought I’d share my 2015 Internet Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame ballot.

Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Tim Raines, Lee Smith. Instead of going through everything I’ve said about these guys already (some of them 3 times), I’ll just refer you back to my previous post, since they were all on that ballot.

Jeff Kent–Let me explain. Of Kent’s 2298 career games, he played 2034 of those at second base. Keeping that in mind, he hit 377 homeruns, which is more than Dimaggio (361), George Brett (317), Craig Biggio (291), Ryne Sandberg (282), Robin Yount (251)–all Hall of Famers. His .500 slugging percent is better than Ernie Banks, George Brett, Andre Dawson, Kirby Puckett, Eddie Murray–all Hall of Famers. He’s 109th on the all-time games played list, 102nd for career at-bats, 117th in runs scored, 107th in hits (2,461), his 1,518 career RBI is good for 51st all-time, more than Mickey Mantle, Mark McGwire, Robin Yount, Todd Helton, Brooks Robinson, Mike Piazza, and Derek Jeter. Only 39 guys had more extra base hits over their careers than Kent, 11 played more games at second base. From 1997 to 2002, this was the guy protecting Barry Bonds in the Giants clean-up spot, and he did his job. When he’s compared to other middle infielders of his era (Larkin, Sandberg), I think he stacks up with them, and frankly, he should be getting more consideration for the HOF from both organizations than he is.

Barry Larkin–In 2012, Larkin was the only player elected to Cooperstown, but the IBWAA still hasn’t elected him to their HOF. His numbers really aren’t impressive at all (198 total HRs, .295 BA, 960 RBI, 379 SB), but he won the 1995 NL MVP award, and in 17 postseason games hit .338. His 70.2 WAR is 97th best all-time (66th for position players), he’s 89th on the all-time stolen base list, 111th in runs scored. Cal Ripken Jr he wasn’t, and he was finishing up his career as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriquez were coming in to their own. When compared to his contemporaries, I think Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer.

Mark McGwire–McGwire is probably never getting in to any Hall of Fame, and that’s kind of a shame. He did hit 393 homers from 1986 to 1997 with Oakland, and 583 total. Yes, there’s the whole PED thing, but if I vote for Bonds & Clemens, I don’t think I can leave out McGwire. He has the 8th best slugging percentage, 1oth best OPS, 81st on-base percent, 10th in homeruns, 70th in RBI, 40th in walks, and the best at-bats per homerun (he was leading the AL in that stat before he allegedly started using PEDs). Let’s face it, the guy could hit, even when he came up as a skinny first baseman/DH in 1986. Sound like anyone else we know? His 1,763 games played at 1B are 39th most all-time, and he was in on 1,408 double plays at 1B, which is 29th most all-time. One of my knocks on McGwire is the fact that he only played in 27 games in 1993, 47 game before the strike hit in ’94, 104 game in ’95–and those were with the DH in Oakland. In 75% of the games he played in, he was at first base, and he finished with a .993 fielding percent (66th best at 1st base), which is better than Bagwell, Eddie Murray, Will Clark, Tony Perez, Fred McGriff, Stan Musial, and Jimmie Foxx. McGwire is one of those guys who will be talked about and debated for a long time to come, but in my mind, he’s a Hall of Famer.

John Smoltz–Smotlz was elected by both the BBWAA and IBWAA this year. He was “the other guy” when you looked at the Braves rotation in the 90s. Think about this–with Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, the Braves had three guys start in the World Series together, who were later elected to the HOF. How they only won the one Championship is beyond me. 213 wins, 154 saves with a 3.33 ERA in an time when pitchers are either starter or relievers, and definitely don’t go from starter to closer back to starter. His versatility and durability (3473 innings over 21 seasons) is pretty remarkable. And then consider his postseason stats: 15-4 with 4 saves & a 2.67 ERA in 41 total postseason games (27 starts). He won the 1996 NL Cy Young award and the NLCS MVP in 1992. I was on the fence with Smoltz (didn’t vote for him on my BBWAA ballot because of the Rule of 10), but he got in, and rightly so.

Allan Trammell–Another one of those guys who should be in, but because some writers don’t want to think too much, he isn’t. He played all 20 seasons of his career in Detroit, and he should probably get in for that alone. The 1984 World Series MVP, his 70.4 WAR is 63rd best among position players, 94th among all players. His 185 homers & 1003 RBI aren’t impressive for a SS now, but he played in an era when you had a shortstop in there for his defense, not his bat. Ripken Junior was just a freak when he came up, and changed things for all shortstops to come. So looking at defense, only NINE guys played more games at short, 27 had more putouts, 16 had more assists, only SIX turned more double plays, and he has the 24th best fielding percentage among shortstops (better than Jeter, Larkin, Ernie Banks, Phil Rizzuto, Robin Yount, and Pee Wee Reese). Sure, he wasn’t the best with the bat, but in the field, he was one of the best, and he’s waited entirely too long to get in to the Hall of Fame.

So who did the Internet Baseball Writers vote in to their Hall of Fame this year? Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz (the 4 guys elected by the BBWAA), and Jeff Bagwell & Tim Raines–two guys who are still waiting for their call to Cooperstown, and who should have been voted in long ago. As far as I’m concerned, THIS is the one that gets it right, even if there are a few players who are still waiting from both groups.

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